How to Stay on the Legal Side of Online Poker in the USA

When it comes to playing online poker in America, it can be a minefield.

Every state seems to have different laws regarding how and if players can access online poker sites, so many players don’t really know how to stay on the legal side of the whole issue.

Here are the rules that you should follow when it comes to playing online poker. There aren’t many, so it’s easy to remember how to keep yourself in line with American online gambling laws.

Only Played at State-Regulated Sites

If you live in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Nevada or New Jersey, you can play at a number of online poker sites that are regulated by the local government. This has been made by possible by allowing brick-and-mortar casinos to obtain online casino licenses, and they have teamed up with online gaming operators like PokerStars to deliver digital products to players. At these online poker sites, you can access a wide range of cash games and tournaments. The selection of games is sometimes a little bit more limited than it is at offshore sites, but all of the standard games are there, like Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Seven Card Stud.

You’ll be able to play poker with players from any states that have teamed up with yours. For example, players in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey are all part of the same player pool, so you can vie for larger prizes in tournaments than you would in a location like Pennsylvania which has not joined the Interstate Poker Pact.

Don’t Play at Regulated Sites from Outside of Regulated States

If you have an account at a state-licensed site, such as PokerStars New Jersey, you shouldn’t try to play from outside of the state. You may want to play poker online with your own account and accumulated balance, but you’ll hit a wall. All of these sites use geolocation technology. So, the operator will be able to tell if you’re trying to access their site from a location where online poker has not yet been regulated. You’ll be blocked from playing on the site. While it’s not illegal to try, it is fruitless.

The same applies if you live out-of-state. It’s possible to use a VPN to connect to an online poker site in Delaware if you live somewhere like New York; however, players are required to submit identifying documents in order to withdraw cash. You’ll have to prove your address by submitted a document that contains both your address and full name, so, even if you can deposit and play, you won’t be able to withdraw your winnings.

Don’t Play If You’re Under the Legal Gambling Age

In states where online poker has been regulated, the legal online gambling age is the same as the legal in-person gambling age – usually 21. The registration process is quite simple, and you may be able to tell a fib about your age in order to sign up for an account, but you won’t be able to get much further than that.
A number of deposit options are available that can be used by individuals under the age of 21. However, you won’t be able to withdraw cash if you’re not of the minimum legal gambling age. The site will ask for a number of identifying documents. Your driver’s license or passport will be required, so you won’t be able to take out any money that you’ve won.

That’s why gaming experts at advise players to wait until they’re old enough to gamble legally before attempting to play poker online. These laws are in place for a reason and, if you can’t enter a casino in Vegas, then it’s best to stay away from gambling destinations in the digital world.

What to Do If You Don’t Live in a Regulated State

If you don’t live an area where online poker has been regulated, not to worry. You can still access offshore gaming sites. This means that you’ll be able to play poker, but it won’t be at a site that is overseen by your state’s gaming commission.

As such, you have to be very careful when deciding where to play. You should only play at sites that have a recognized online gaming license. Look for a seal at the bottom of the website that features gaming jurisdictions like Isle of Man, Curacao, Costa Rica or Kahnawake. These locations are well-known for their regulation of online gaming operators, holding operators to a high standard when it comes to player protection.

You should also be careful when it comes to spending money. Only use banking methods like credit cards and reputable e-wallets (PayPal, Skrill, Neteller, etc). If any online poker site asks you to make a deposit using cash methods, such as money orders or Western Union, that’s a big red flag.

It’s important you’re aware that it isn’t illegal for players to access poker sites from outside of regulated states. You can’t get into trouble with the law if you decide to sign up to an offshore site, so there’s no need to worry about that. Only operators can be reprimanded, but that is still something that can affect you.

If the authorities end up going after the poker site that you’re registered with, it may shut down unexpectedly which can make it difficult for you to withdraw your cash. It’s easy to stay above board when it comes to playing poker online.

It’s certainly not as complicated or dangerous as many players think, so feel free to enjoy yourself playing in cash games in tournaments to flex your skills and potentially earn some great payouts.